True fiction: Philosophy and psychology of religious belief

Philosophical Psychology 16 (1):109-125 (2003)
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The phenomenon of religious belief has been much discussed in philosophy of religion. However, a priori argumentation alone cannot establish what religious belief is like as a psychological attitude. Recent advances in the cognitive science of religion have paved the way for a new, naturalized philosophy of religion. Taking into account the relevant results and hypotheses presented within these disciplines, it is possible to develop a more empirically informed philosophy of religious belief. Instead of asking whether believing is rational, it is here asked how religious belief is cognitively possible. Combining Boyer's evolutionary account of religion with Sperber's and Cosmides and Tooby's theory of metarepresentation, we get the sort of conceptual toolkit needed to specify those cognitive mechanisms and operations that make religious belief possible. Religious belief is shown to require a unique combination of these mechanisms and operations



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